Research spotlight

Conference presentations, seminars, research publications and more

Upcoming conferences or presentations

27 June – 1 July 2022

Mary Leahy, Glenda Strachan and Alice Garner will be presenting a conference paper at the Australian Historical Association‘s conference titled “Urgent Histories” drawing on research findings about the experiences and perspectives of women trainers on the work and impact of TUTA. The conference is being hosted by the Contemporary Histories Research Group at Deakin Universit’s Geelong Waterfront Campus. Details here.

Conferences we have presented at to date

April 2022

Mary Leahy and Alice Garner will be presenting a paper on TUTA’s contributions to Occupational Health and Safety training at the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History conference in Bendigo, Fighting for Life: Class, Community and Care in Labour History. Information here. This was a fantastic opportunity to discuss trade union education and much more with labour history academics and postgraduates and also to remember our colleague Stuart Macintyre, former President of the ASSLH.

November 2021

On 16-17 November 2021, we held a two-day, online conference about trade union education, The Trade Union Training Authority: Lessons from a Bold Experiment, featuring speakers who discussed approaches to education, equity, building union power and film in union education. Speakers included former and current union educators and organisers, activists, archivists, labour lawyers, film-makers and historians. In the introductory session on the 16th November, four of the team’s researchers outlined some of the interim findings from our project. Visit our Conference page, where the conference program and recordings of most sessions can be found.

The Australian Labour Law Association (ALLA) held its 10th Biennial conference online on 11-12 November and Anthony Forsyth and Renee Burns, with Mary Leahy and Alice Garner, presented their research findings on trade union training leave. The paper, titled ‘The Evolution of the Regulatory Framework for Trade Union Training in Australia’ is currently being prepared for publication.

August 2021

‘A Bold Experiment: Participatory learning and trade union training in Australia, 1975-1996’, paper presented by Alice Garner, Mary Leahy, Anthony Forsyth and Renee Burns at the European Labour History Network conference, (online), Vienna, Australia, in the Workers’ Education session. Our paper explored some European influences on the development of the national residential trade union training centre, the thinking behind its establishment and the use of participatory adult education methods employed at Clyde Cameron College.

The session wrap-up led to discussion about the possible publication of an edited book on Spaces in Workers’ Education with contributions from labour historians from around the world. We were also able to make contact with some people who work in the Swedish labour history archives, where we hope to find records of a 1973 visit by Australian union officials and politicians (including Clyde Cameron), which influenced some of the decision-making around trade union training here in Australia.

April 2021

Trade union education in context: exploring workers’ education in Australia

In April 2021, veteran union educator and metalworker Max Ogden and labour historian Professor Verity Burgmann came together to discuss workers’ education in Australia, for the Theodore Fink Memorial Seminar. This discussion, with contributions from Dr Alice Garner (moderator), Professor John Polesel and Dr Mary Leahy, provides useful context for the trade union education project.

This public conversation held in 2021 between Verity Burgmann and Max Ogden explores aspects of the history and development of workers’ education in Australia. Trade union training is discussed within the broader context of radical and workers’ education.

February 2021

‘Trade union training in Australia: from ‘Red Square’ to the lounge room’, presented by Renee Burns and Anthony Forsyth at the Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand (AIRAANZ) 2021 Conference.

November 2020

We joined a panel at the online Virtual Organising Conference held by the Australian Trade Union Institute, exploring changes to and developments in Australian trade union education over the decades. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear from and talk with current-day union workers, to think about what we can learn from our past but also what has changed, requiring a different set of tools, particularly in the context of the pandemic.

October 2020

‘From butcher’s paper to Zoom breakouts: developments and transformations in Australian trade union education’, presented at the ANU’s Australian Studies Institute online symposium: This changes everything’: Australia and the post-pandemic world. From our lockdown desktops, we produced a short video offering an overview of the Trade Union Training Authority and discussion of how union educators have had to shift to online course delivery during the pandemic. Click here to watch the video: